Because a case of mistaken identity involving another Jesse Ray Hardy Jr. put an innocent man in jail for a week
and sent court officials scrambling Friday morning to get him back to his home in Greenville.
The innocent Jesse Ray Hardy Jr., 44, spent all of this week in the Guilford County jail on charges of resisting an officer, breaking and entering, and failing to yield to a pedestrian, as well as a registration violation.
The real suspect shares the same name and hometown, but he is 23 years younger and is not related to the older man.
According to court officials, the elder Hardy was arrested Monday in Pitt County on the younger Hardy’s charges, which stemmed from Guilford County.
The older man appeared before a magistrate in Greenville, but no one realized they had the wrong guy.
Hardy was then transferred to the Guilford County jail. A first appearance in Guilford County District Court on Tuesday and an appointed public defender didn’t reveal the mix-up either.
At 10:30 a.m. Friday, Hardy found himself standing before District Court Judge Susan Bray.
“Someone came down from the district attorney’s office and told me the wrong person was arrested,” Bray said. “I said we’ll let him out of jail right away and reissue a warrant for the correct person. I apologized to Mr. Hardy, and he didn’t seem that upset.”
But there was a problem. Hardy didn’t have a way home.
That’s when court officials began digging into their pockets. Bray, prosecutors, defense attorneys and bailiffs pitched in to get the innocent man back home.
They raised $58 in all — enough to buy Hardy lunch and a ticket out of town. The jail moved quickly to release the man, and a detention officer helped get him to the depot and ensured he got on his way.
“I would have hated him to have been at a shelter tonight,” Bray said Friday afternoon. “(Getting the ticket) worked out, but I hate that he was in jail for a week.”
She called it an unfortunate mistake that should have been caught earlier.
“You should be able to tell the age difference
,” Bray said. “Ideally, you would hope he had ID that showed his birth date. I’m thinking he might not have told them it wasn’t him.
Whatever the reason, court officials hope they will see the other Jesse Ray Hardy Jr. sometime soon.